Sometimes we look at a task before us as if it is a huge undertaking and the enormity can paralyze us. We react by sticking our head in the sand, or procrastinating or distracting ourselves with ‘bright, shiny objects.’ And, yet, if we break the task down into smaller bites, we can accomplish those and make progress toward our goals. We just forget that we already know this strategy.
In our daily lives, we can be overwhelmed with our ‘to-do’ lists and we forget that we are a part of a community, that there are others who have needs and we can make their day better by doing something small that feels huge to that other person. The key to doing this is to being alert to opportunities. Living a Conscious Life brings us into the Consciousness of the Moment – living each moment with full awareness, of Self and Other, so that we can fully participate in that moment.
Think about how many mindless things you do in a day. How many minutes do you think you spend in activities that you perform by rote? How much of your day is spent being unconscious or thinking about something other than the activity in which you are engaged in that moment? You wash the dishes and you think about your to-do list for tomorrow. You take the dog for a walk and you’re planning your day. You pick your children up and you are on the phone in the car while they are playing with their toys. You and your spouse go through the mail and don’t talk to each other at all. The list goes on and on.
Mindfulness is a practice where you are fully present to each moment of your day. If you are washing the dishes then you are focused on the washing of the dishes. You notice the temperature of the water. You examine the plate to make sure it is clean and you appreciate the food that it held for you to eat. You get the picture.
So what if you were to go through your day with that same kind of mindfulness focused on the people with whom you interact? What if you paid attention to the people in line with you in the grocery store? What if you stopped and listened for a bit to the street musician and then threw some money in the jar? What if you really acknowledged the server in the restaurant or the receptionist in the office and asked, with genuine interest, how their day has been?
It doesn’t take much to make a difference in someone else’s day but too often we are so focused on the next thing we have to do or how well/badly the last thing we did went that we forget to be fully present to the moment we are living right now. This moment is here only once in our life. Every moment that we spend thinking of other moments is thrown away from the time of our life. We can never get it back and time is our most precious commodity.
Now think if you used an awareness of this present moment as an opportunity to improve someone else’s life. How would you feel at the end of the day if you took advantage of every opportunity like this?
Pretty darned good.
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